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Sooners Aim for Big 12 Title Berth
November 12, 2007

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Just minutes before the start of Oklahoma's football game with Baylor, the final score came in: Illinois 28, Ohio State 21.

As he prepared the Sooners to take the field Saturday, coach Bob Stoops learned the top-ranked Buckeyes had lost, a key development for Oklahoma as it seeks to maneuver back into position for a possible berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game.

But he didn't tell his team, although he acknowledged after the Sooners beat Baylor 52-21 that some of his players likely either knew what had happened to Ohio State or figured it out during the game.

"We didn't make a big deal about it at all," Stoops said. "In the end, none of it matters. You still have to take care of your business. It ruined some of you guys' stories. You guys had it all figured out last week. Now it's changed again. ... You've got to keep winning and keep fighting."

Sooners No. 3 in Polls, No. 4 in BCS | OU Blasts Baylor, 52-21 | OU History & Tradition

Ohio State fell to No. 7 in this week's Top 25 and out of the top spot to seventh in the BCS standings, which were released Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma (9-1, 5-1 Big 12 Conference) moved up a spot to No. 3 in The Associated Press poll, even receiving one first-place vote. The Sooners, whose only loss came on Sept. 29 at Colorado, are fourth in the BCS standings, behind Louisiana State, Oregon and undefeated Kansas.

If Oklahoma and Kansas continue on their present courses, they will meet in the Big 12 title game, so the Sooners control that bit of their own destiny.

But it seems obvious Oklahoma needs to win out -- starting with this Saturday's game at Texas Tech -- and have either LSU or Oregon lose during the season's final weeks if the Sooners are to have a chance to play for the BCS title.

That doesn't mean, however, the Sooners will be doing any scoreboard watching.

"All we can do is keep playing," junior defensive back Reggie Smith said. "We have to win our game or nothing matters. It's up to us, but I think people started to count us out. So we have to stick together and keep winning games."

Freshman running back DeMarco Murray, who scored four touchdowns against Baylor -- one on a 91-yard kickoff return -- said the Sooners "have nothing to do" with how other teams might fare.

"We just worry about the two games we've got left," Murray said. "Everything will fall in place if we continue to do what we're doing."

Ironically, Stoops' brother, Mike Stoops, could aid Oklahoma's cause on Thursday, as Mike Stoops' Arizona Wildcats play Oregon. Bob Stoops said he's sure his brother understands that an Arizona win would help the Sooners, but that he hasn't spoken with Mike Stoops about it.

"It doesn't matter if we don't win our next two games," said Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who once served as the Sooners' co-coordinator with Mike Stoops. "That's kind of how we're looking at it."

Besides traveling to Arizona, Oregon still must visit UCLA and host Oregon State. LSU will play at Mississippi and at home against Arkansas before a likely berth in the Southeastern Conference title game against Florida, Georgia or Tennessee.

After playing Texas Tech, Oklahoma will host Oklahoma State in its regular-season finale. The Sooners must win one of those two games to clinch a berth in the Big 12 title game opposite either No. 4 Kansas or No. 6 Missouri.

Once-beaten, fifth-ranked West Virginia also harbors hopes of reaching the BCS title game, but the Mountaineers need even more help than Oklahoma does.

"You don't worry about anybody else," Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said, repeating the Sooners' apparent mantra. "There's a lot of football to be played.

"We just want to make sure we've got a chance to win another Big 12 championship, and from there, the dust will settle. Strength of schedules and computer things and all that, they will work out the way they're going to work out. We've got no control over it, other than getting ready to come play."

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